The Hengifoss Hike – Iceland

Hengifoss is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, and while there’s a bit of a hike to get there, it’s absolutely worth it. Hengifoss is also the third-tallest waterfall in Iceland, with the first being Morsáfoss (or Morsáfossar, plural) and the second Glymur. Despite that, I think this is the most beautiful one out of the three.

Hengifoss at the end of the Hike

Apart from being a very majestic waterfall, the cliffs it drops from are spectacular in their own right. On top of that, the red clay and basaltic strata add a unique visual effect to the scene. It’s one of those wonders of nature that you could spend hours looking at.

Hengifoss, a waterfal ldropping from a cliff in Iceland

There is no other way to get to Hengifoss but to hike there. The hike is relatively short and quite easy, though. You will find this trail quite easy, even if you are an occasional hiker.

Outline of the Hengifoss Hike

  • Getting there: if you are on the Ring Road (Road 1), you should take road 931 from Egilsstaðir. Keep following the road till you arrive at the Parking area at the start of the trail. If you are coming from the south and want to take a shortcut, you can take road 939 after Djúpivogur. It’s a gravel road suitable for 2wd cars, and the drive is quite scenic. Road 939 will then merge into Road 95. From there, you can continue onto Road 931 until you reach the parking area by the trailhead. This shortcut will save you about an hour on the road, so you could that you could instead spend looking at this majestic waterfall :)!
  • Start of The Hike: From the Hengifoss Car Park. You can’t miss the trail from there.
  • Photography & Scenery value: scenic hike along the river with multiple waterfalls. Bring your tripod for long exposures!
  • Difficulty: Easy to medium, depending on fitness. The elevation gain is not much, less than 300m. The trail does not present any particular challenges, such as exposed or steep areas.
  • Tip: Another little-known but fascinating hike nearby is the so-called “Waterfall Circle“. I have not been there yet, but I plan to hike this trail soon. So if you are looking for hikes in this area, you should definitely consider including the waterfall circle in your itinerary.

On the Trail

Distance Ascent Duration
4.71 Km 230m. 1:30/2 Hrs

The trailhead is immediately visible from the parking area. It is very also visible at all times, and it is well maintained. It is not a very demanding hike and not a very long one either. The “steepest” section of the trail is the first half, so once you get past that, it is a fairly easy walk to the waterfall.

There wasn’t a viewing platform yet when I visited in 2016, but I gather today that the trail ends on that platform.

Photographing Hengifoss

The waterfall is not immediately visible at the start of the hike, and it takes about 20 minutes to get the first glimpse. Fear not, though! Soon enough, you will pass by another waterfall, Litlanesfoss. In a way, you could say it’s the “bonus” waterfall attached to Hengifoss. Litlanesfoss actually is a beautiful waterfall in its own right. Litlanesfoss is in a little gorge, and it’s surrounded by basalt columns, which provide a nice frame for the waterfall.

There are not many compositional choices for this waterfall as it sits in a gorge below the trail, so the only vantage points are the ones you can get to on the side of the trail.

Litlanesfoss surrounded by basaltic columns

Litlanesfoss surrounded by basaltic columns.

Litlanesfoss seen from a cliff on the side of the trail leasing to hengifoss, which is in the background

Litlanesfoss, with Hengifoss in the background.

As you hike past Litlanesfoss, you will gradually see more and more of Hengifoss until you’ll be able to see it in its entirety. There are quite a few good views from this part of the trails too.

Once you reach the waterfall, compositional choices are somewhat limited, though. Apart from the viewing platform, the waterfall is deep in the gorge, so the vantage points are naturally limited.

Hengifoss at the end of the Hike

Photo desaturated in post-processing, with some added vignetting.

When I visited in 2016, there was no viewing platform yet, so you could get as close to the platform as the river allowed. However, a platform was recently built, and getting that close to the waterfall is no longer possible. So, if you visit, please respect the area and do not walk beyond the viewing platform.

Map of the Hengifoss Hike

If you need a GPS track, you can download the .GPX file from the Komoot activity.

Where to Stay

Not much in the immediate vicinity of the waterfall, but there are several hotels and camping accommodations around Lagarfljót. The hike to Hengifoss is also easily done in half a day, so you could easily integrate it into your ring road itinerary and continue on to the next attraction, as there’s plenty to see in the area.

Additional resources

Got a question or your own experience to share? Let us know in the comments below.